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Frequently Asked Questions2018-07-05T12:36:02+00:00

Frequently Asked Questions

AMPUTATION FAQs

What is an amputation?

An amputation is generally the loss of a finger, hand, arm, toe, foot, or leg. Victims of traumatic amputations are at risk of serious complications, such as bleeding, infection, shock, and/or death.

Traumatic amputations, is the severing of a portion or all of a body part due to an accident. This can be a life-threatening and life-changing event, which may cause a complete amputation, where a limb or appendage is completely severed from the body, or a partial amputation, where some soft tissue remains at the site. Amputations can also occur due to a catastrophic injury, disease, or infections that will not heal properly unless the affected area is surgically removed. A severe injury, such as a car accident or severe burn, can cause tissue death by destroying blood vessels and if the limb is not removed an infection can spread through the body and cause death.

If you have suffered a serious injury, such as an amputated limb or appendage, as a result of someone else’s negligence, please contact the personal injury attorneys of Swartz & Swartz, P.C.

What can cause an amputation?

Many accidents can cause a traumatic amputation to occur such as:
  • Auto accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Defective products
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Fire, Explosion, and Electrocution Accidents
  • Industrial accidents

Amputations can result from improper machinery maintenance, faulty employee training, or unsafe working conditions.

Limbs and appendages can be severed by machinery such as:
  • Drill Presses
  • Conveyor belts
  • Guillotine shears
  • Meat grinders
  • Mechanical power presses
  • Metal-forming machines
  • Milling machines
  • Printing presses

What to do if someone has a limb or appendage injury?

If someone experiences an injury that appears to result in a severed or partially severed limb or appendage, please seek medical attention at once. Assure the victim’s airway passage is clear and perform CPR if necessary. If possible, stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure to the injured area and elevating the injured part. Save any severed limb or appendage by wrapping it in a clean and damp cloth, putting it in a plastic bag, and then immersing the bag in cold or ice water. It is important to keep the part away from heat. Bring the part to the hospital to give to the medical professional who arrives at the scene. Make sure to stay with the injured victim until medical assistance arrives.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What emotional injuries can be caused by amputations?

Amputations can cause severe disability and loss in quality of living. They can cause emotional and psychological injuries. Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depressing, and grief can all be associated with the psychological injuries of amputations

Amputation Data & Statistics

In the United States, there are approximately 1.7 million people living with an amputations and that number grows by an estimated 135,000 new yearly amputations. The peak age for limb loss is 41-70 years old. 22% of amputations are trauma related and 68.6% of those are amputations of the upper limbs.

How to diagnose a traumatic amputation?*

Diagnosing a traumatic brain injury is simple if the limb or appendage is severed completely. However, if there is a partial amputation, it must be determined if any part of the affected limb or appendage can be saved. If an amputation occurs, the victim’s vital signs must be monitored very carefully to observe for any signs of shock.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What are the types of amputation?

Upper Limb Amputations:
  • Amputation of individual digits- When a victim loses any of their digits, their grasping ability is affected.
  • Multiple digit amputations- When more than one finger is lost, surgeons will attempt to construct muscles to assist with grasping.
  • Metacarpal amputation- loss of entire hand with wrist still intact; no ability to grasp
  • Wrist disarticulation- loss of the hand at the level of wrist joint
  • Forearm (transradial) amputation- classified by the length of the remaining partial forearm stump. The length affects the pronation ability, or the ability to move the forearm.
  • Elbow disarticulation- removal of entire forearm at elbow; victim will retain the ability to hold weight.
  • Above-elbow (transhumeral) amputation- amputation anywhere above the elbow and below the shoulder.
  • Shoulder disarticulation- the shoulder is removed, however the shoulder blade remains; the collarbone may or may not be removed
  • Forequarter amputation- removal of shoulder blade and collarbone
Lower Limb Amputations:
  • Foot Amputations- amputation of any part of foot such as mid-tarsal or toe amputation; may affect balance and walking.
  • Ankle disarticulation (Syme amputation) – amputation of entire ankle.
  • Below-knee (transtibial) amputation- amputation above the ankle but below the knee; victim may have difficulty putting weight on limb.
  • Knee-bearing amputation- complete removal of the lower leg.
  • Above-knee (transfemoral) amputation- amputation at thigh.
  • Hip disarticulation- removing the entire leg bone.

If you have suffered a serious injury, such as an amputated limb or appendage, as a result of someone else’s negligence, please contact the personal injury attorneys of Swartz & Swartz, P.C.

BURN INJURY FAQs

Burn injury data & statistics

There are approximately 10,000 pediatric burn injuries in the United States each year. In the United States, about 2.4 million burn injuries are reported annually. Of that 2.4 million, 20,000 have major burns involving at least 25% of their total body surface and 8,000 to 12,000 of patients with burns will die. Approximately one million will sustain substantial or permanent disabilities resulting from their burn injuries. Burns are one of the most expensive, catastrophic injuries to treat. For example, a burn to 30% of total body area can cost as much as $200,000.

We have represented many people throughout the country who have suffered from severe burn injuries, achieving record setting results for our clients. The attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. have the experience to fully investigate instances causing burn injuries, including obtaining fire marshal and other official reports; hiring and working with medical and explosion experts; and pursuing aggressive discovery during litigation in preparation for trial.

How to treat a burn injury?

First Aid for Minor Burns (First Degree):
  • Run cool water over the burned area or soak it in a cool water bath for five minutes, if the skin is not broken.  If burn occurred in cold atmosphere, DO NOT apply water.
  • Reassure victim and take care to keep them calm.
  • Cover burn with a sterile non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth.
  • Protect the burn from pressure or friction.
  • Over-the-counter pain medication can be used to reduce pain.
  • Minor burns will often heal without seeking further treatment.
First Aid for Severe Burns (Second & Third Degree):
  • DO NOT remove burned clothing; however take care to ensure that the victim is not in contact with burning or smoldering material.
  • Make sure victim is breathing. If victim is not breathing or airway is blocked, then open the airway and perform CPR.
  • If victim is breathing, cover the burn with a cool moist sterile bandage or clean cloth. DO NOT use a blanket or towel; DO NOT apply ointments and DO NOT break blisters.
  • Elevate burned area and protect the burn from pressure or friction.
  • Take steps to prevent shock.
  • Continue to monitor victim’s vital signs.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What can cause a burn injury?

There are many potential causes for burn injuries such as:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Boating accidents
  • Chemical burns
  • Construction accidents
  • Defective candles, heaters, and fireplaces
  • Defective products
  • Defective vehicles
  • Electrical accidents
  • Fireworks injuries
  • Flammable liquid fuel explosions
  • Gas explosions/fires
  • Gasoline spills
  • Industrial accidents
  • Lighters and matches
  • Propane explosions/fires
  • Radiation accidents
  • Scalding water
  • Work injuries

What are the types of burns?

There are several degrees of burns that are classified by their depth, including: first, second, third, and fourth degree burns, as well as inhalation burns.

First Degree Burns:

Red and sensitive to touch. The skin will appear blanched when light pressure is applied. Involves minimal tissue damage to the skin surface (epidermis). First degree burns affect the outer-layer of the skin causing pain, redness, and swelling. An example of a first degree burn is a sunburn.

Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Peeling skin
  • Redness
  • Shock (pale, clammy skin, weakness, bluish lips and finger nails)
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin

Second Degree Burns:

Second degree burns affect the outer-layer (epidermis) and the under lying layer of skin (dermis) causing redness, pain, blisters, and swelling. These burns affect the sweat glands and hair follicles. A second degree burn must be treated promptly because swelling and decreased blood flow can result in the burn becoming a third-degree burn.

Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Peeling skin
  • Redness
  • Shock (pale, clammy skin, weakness, bluish lips and finger nails)
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin

Third Degree Burns:

Affects the outer layer (epidermis), underlying layer of skin (dermis) and the innermost and thickest layer of skin (hypodermis).  This burn causes charred skin and a translucent white color, with coagulated vessels visible below the skin’s surface. Healing from third-degree burns is very slow because of the tissue being destroyed.

Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Peeling skin
  • Redness
  • Shock (pale, clammy skin, weakness, bluish lips and finger nails)
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin

Fourth Degree Burns:

Fourth Degree burns are the most serious burns—full thickness burns that affect every layer of the skin and the structures below the skin, such as tendons, bone, ligaments and muscles. These are not typically chronically painful burns because the nerves have been destroyed. Fourth degree burns always require surgery or grafting to close the wounds, often resulting in permanent disability, with lengthy rehabilitation times. These burns can be life-threatening and may require amputation.

Inhalation Injuries:

  • Damage from heat inhalation: Lung burns occur if you have directly breathed in hot air or a flame source or the heat was forced into you with high pressure. Thermal injury causes damage to the upper airways however, the secondary airway may be injured is steam is inhaled.
  • Damage from systemic toxins: Systemic toxins affect people’s ability to absorb oxygen. Systemic toxins cause a person to act confused or fall unconscious in the case of an enclosed fire. Toxic poisoning can cause permanent damage to organs including the brain. The effects of Carbon Monoxide poisoning may be unknown, with no symptoms, until the victim falls into a coma.
  • Damage from smoke inhalation: Smoke intoxication is commonly hidden by visible injuries as a result of a fire. 60% to 80% of fatalities from burn injuries can be attributed to smoke inhalation, which is not readily apparent. Inhalation injury indicators usually appear within 2-48 hours after the burn occurred. Such indications are:
  • Burns around face or neck
  • Fainting
  • Fire or smoke in a closed area
  • Nasal hairs, eyebrows, eyelashes singed
  • Respiratory distress or upper airway obstruction
  • Soot around mouth or nose

Radiation Burns:

Radiation burns are caused by X-rays, radiation therapy for cancer treatment, tanning beds, or malfunctioning halide light bulbs.

Electrical Burns:

Electrical burns can have many causes, such as high voltage wires, damaged electrical cords, and electrical outlets. Internal injuries that result from an electrical burn are not always apparent.

Chemical Burns:

Chemical burns often are associated with industrial accidents and occur because of chemical compounds such as cleaning products, battery fluid, pool chemicals, and drain cleaners. Hydrofluoric acid can eat to the bone before the severity burn injury become evident.

How to diagnose a burn injury?

It is important to determine how bad a burn is by how hot the skin gets and how long the burn lasts as well as the location because the skin thickness, water and oil content, fat, and the number of blood vessels varies.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

How to identify the severity of a burn injury?

To determine the severity of an injury, the patient’s age, size and depth of the burn, and the location of the burn must be determined. A “Rule of Nines” chart is used to determine the total body surface area (TBSA) that has been burned. This chart splits the body into sections that represent nine percent of the body surface area. A separate chart is used for children because their head and neck is larger than adults and the limbs are smaller than those of adults.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

CATASTROPHIC INJURY FAQs

What is a catastrophic injury?

Catastrophic injuries are life-changing injuries that often occur suddenly and without warning. These injuries have long-term implications which sometimes become evident months or even years after an accident. Catastrophic injuries often damage the central nervous system and in turn may damage other bodily systems.

Victims of catastrophic injuries may never be able to work again and are likely to require long-term medical care. The physical and emotional pain of a catastrophic injury is immense, and the financial consequences can be overwhelming as well.

Catastrophic injury victims and their families should work with an attorney experienced with complex injury litigation. The attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. have over three decades of expertise in complex catastrophic injury litigation. If you would like to speak with one of our injury attorneys or schedule a free consultation, please call our Boston law office at 617-742-1900.

How to treat a catastrophic injury

Victims must receive proper medical care for a catastrophic injury. After the initial medical care, they may need to visit the doctor frequently or have follow-up surgeries. An attorney can work with medical care professionals to determine the potential future medical needs of the victim. This will ensure that victims of the negligence are fully compensated for past, present and future damages.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What are the types of catastrophic injuries?

Examples of catastrophic injuries:

  • Brain injuries
  • Burns
  • Death
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of eyesight
  • Loss of hearing
  • Loss of limbs (amputations)
  • Multiple bone injuries
  • Organ damage
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Paraplegia
  • Permanent disabilities
  • Quadriplegia
  • Serious head trauma
  • Severe burns
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

What causes a catastrophic injury?

Common Causes of Catastrophic injuries:

  • Car accidents
  • Consumer products
  • Drug/medications
  • Environmental disasters
  • Explosions
  • Falls
  • Fires
  • Industrial and construction accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Nautical accidents
  • Toxic exposure
  • Truck accidents
  • Workplace accidents

What damages can you recover after a catastrophic injury?

Damages Recovered for:

  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain
  • Permanent disability
  • Scarring
  • Suffering

DROWNING INJURY FAQs

What is drowning?

Drowning is a considerable public health concern because it is a significant cause of disability and death. Drowning is a process resulting in primary respiratory impairment from submersion in a liquid medium.

Massachusetts pool operators may be legally liable for any drowning-related injuries or deaths that occur due to safety and code violations.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or death due to a drowning accident, please contact the attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. in Boston, Massachusetts.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What is dry-drowning?

Another form of drowning is dry-drowning which may occur, for example, when a person is submerged in icy water. The coldness of the water causes the larynx to spasm and results in a lack of oxygen in the body.

What is a submersion injury?

Near-drowning or submersion injury is the survival, at least temporarily, after suffocation by submersion in a liquid medium. The injuries occur when a person is submerged under water, attempts to breathe, and aspirates water or has laryngospasm without aspiration.

Drowning injury data & statistics

  • 1,500 drowning deaths involve children.
  • More than 8,000 deaths occur annually in the United States due to drowning.
  • Submersion-related injuries are the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

What are the classifications of a submersion incident?

  • Asymptomatic
  • Symptomatic
    • Altered level of consciousness
    • Altered vital signs
    • Anxious appearance
    • Dyspnea
    • Hypoxia
    • Metabolic acidosis
    • Neurological deficit
    • Tachypnea
  • Cardiopulmonary Arrest
    • Apnea
    • Asystole
    • Bradycardia
    • Immersion syndrome
    • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Obviously Dead
    • Apnea
    • Dependent lividity
    • No apparent CNS function
    • Normothermic with asystole
    • Rigor mortis

What are the causes of drowning?

  • Anxiety/ panic disorder
  • Drowning in Bathtub
  • Drowning in Ponds, lakes, rivers, and oceans
  • Drowning in Residential swimming pools
  • Hypoglycemia/ diabetes
  • Inadequate fencing
  • Inadequate pool supervision
  • Inadequate safety training
  • Inadequate safety/ medical equipment
  • Myocardial infarction
  • No barrier between pool and home
  • Poor neuromuscular control
  • Seizure disorder
  • Unsafe pool equipment
  • Violations of safety standards/ regulations
  • Water sports

What injuries can result from a drowning incident?

  • Acidosis
  • Autonomic instability
  • Brain damage
  • Cerebral edema
  • Cervical spine injuries
  • Head trauma
  • Learning disabilities
  • Memory problems
  • Multiorgan effects
  • Permanent loss of basic functioning
  • Prolonged hypoxemia

ELECTROCUTION INJURY FAQs

What is electrocution?

Electrocution, which can lead to death, is caused by any type of electric shock due to exposure to high voltage electricity. Small currents (70 mA –  700 mA) may cause fibrillation in the heart, which can be reversed with a defibrillator. Large currents (> 1 A) may cause permanent damage via burns, and cellular damage.

Factors that determine the extent and severity of an electrocution injury include:

  • Amount of voltage encountered
  • Duration of contact with current
  • Pathway of electricity through the body
  • Type of circuit
  • Type of current

How does electrocution happen?

In the Workplace: Electrocution in the workplace often occurs due to unsafe working conditions, or malfunctioning or defective machinery or tools.

In the Home: Electrocutions in the home often occur from malfunctioning or defective products, such as appliances, power tools, or medical devices. Children can be electrocuted by unsafe children’s products. Also, faulty installations or repairs could result in electrocution.

On someone else’s Property: Electrocution can happen anywhere that visitors are exposed to dangerous electricity in unexpected places.

What are the causes of electric shock or electrocution?

  • Accidental contact between metal and electricity. For example, this can occur from a ladder touching an exposed electrical current at a construction site.
  • Accidental contact with exposed electrical sources. This can occur due to contact with an appliance or wiring.
  • Electrical arc flashed from power lines
  • Faulty electrical wiring.
  • Lightning.
  • Products such as hair dryers, microwaves, and other electricity-powered items.
  • Unintentional or accidental contact with a power line. This can occur during a car accident or construction.
  • Unsafe commercial kitchen or industrial environment.

What are the common physical reactions to electrocution?

  • Brain and other nerve damage
  • Broken bones
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Cataracts (loss of vision)
  • Changes in temperament or personality
  • Deformity at point of contact
  • Headaches
  • Hearing loss
  • Heart fibrillation (fluttery muscular contractions that cause cardiac arrest)
  • Internal organ damage
  • Loss of cognitive abilities
  • Memory loss
  • Neuropathy (failure of nerve cells to function properly)
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Permanent heart muscle damage
  • Renal failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Ruptured eardrums
  • Seizures
  • Severe burns
  • Spine injury
  • Unconsciousness
  • Weakness

What organ systems can be damaged by an electrocution injury?

Cardiovascular system injury:

Asystole, which is the lack of a cardiac rhythm or a “flatline”, or ventricular fibrillation, which is chaotic and useless fluttering of the ventricles, can occur due to an electrocution injury. These two rhythms are lethal and can result in death if not immediately treated.

Respiratory system injury:

The lungs are rarely damaged during electrocution because they do not conduct electricity well. Unfortunately, when the current passes through the chest and causes tetany of the chest muscles, this can cause respiratory arrest. Also, when electricity goes through the part of the brain that controls breathing, the victim may suffer respiratory arrest.

Central nervous system injury:

Head and spinal cold injuries mainly occur due to blunt trauma, and victims of electrocution largely fall from heights or are thrown from the source of the electricity. It is important that anyone who suffers from an electrocution be assumed to have a spinal cord injury unless otherwise determined. Long-term complications from electrocution to the central nervous system may include:

  • Damage to the peripheral nerves
  • Delayed spinal cord injuries
  • Psychiatric issues such as depression or anxiety
  • Seizures
Musculoskeletal system injury:

Due to extended tetany, damage to muscles may occur and cause rhabdomyolysis and kidney damage. Many injuries, such as fractures, burns, or trauma to organs may occur due to electrocution. Victims who fall or are thrown due to their electrocution must seek immediate attention from a trauma team.

Integumentary system:

The skin and soft tissues are often most affected due to electrocution. Severe burns must be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible.

Electrocution data & statistics

Approximately 1000 fatalities and 3000 admissions to burn centers are due to electrical injuries annually. The most common age groups that suffer electrocution are toddlers and adolescents.

What is the treatment for electrocution injury?*

Survivors of electrocution may have a lengthy and painful road to recovery with overwhelming medical expenses, loss of wages, or permanent disability.

Any time a victim is electrocuted, medical attention must be sought immediately. If you or a loved one has been the victim of electric shock or electrocution due to another’s negligence or carelessness, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. for a free consultation.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

Who is responsible for an electrocution injury?

There are various laws that can help a victim of electrocution or the victim’s family receive compensation. Such laws are:

  • Negligence and Personal Injury laws
  • Premises liability laws
  • Product liability laws
  • Workers compensation laws

Please contact Swartz & Swartz, P.C. to consult with a personal injury attorney regarding the best approach to obtaining compensation for electrocution injuries.

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